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Purposive Communication – Definition, Meaning and Types

Published by: Hitesh Bhasin

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Purposive communication is the practice of using different communication forms like writing, speaking, and presenting for various purposes associated with different target audiences. It is the main mode of communication that is used in different organizations for the seamless transport of messages, data, and ideas. This can happen in different channels and forms, however, its basic concept is all about good structure and defined formats to fulfill a purpose.  It is essential not just for solving conflicts but also for building up relations with each other. While casual communication is the mode of communication in daily life, purposive communications are mainly used for corporates and other professional purposes.

What is Purposive Communication?

Definition: Purposive communication is defined as a type of communication that takes place with a purpose in mind. Communications generally take place for serving five purposes such as informing, expressing feelings, imagining, influencing, and meeting social expectations. So, when you utilize purposive communications, you plan and execute a communication process to fulfill any of these purposes. It is the spreading of a message of communication or an idea to a specific group of audiences in the best-suited formats and through the right channels. While there can be different forms such as oral and written, but the messages that are being shared are properly formatted and structured to serve the inherent purpose.

Types of Purposive Communications

Today, purposive communications have become an eminent part of personal, social, as well as professional networks, as it is highly used in not just maintaining professionalism but also in attaining a particular objective. As casual communication requires the right expression for expressing the right emotions, similarly, purposive communications also require the right format, medium, and the right language to express the message correctly and to enhance performance in the team to achieve the exact results. Common types of purposive communications are –

  1. Talking intelligently on a subject of import
  2. Reporting on group work and/or assignments
  3. Writing and delivering a formal speech
  4. Writing minutes of meetings and similar documents
  5. Preparing research or technical paper
  6. Making an audio-visual or web-based presentation

Different types of communication skills that are used in such forms of purposive communications are

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading
  4. Writing
  5. Viewing

Oral vs Purposive Communications

Oral vs Purposive Communications As oral communication is also a part of purposive communication, there are a lot of times when people tend to confuse between casual oral communication and purposive communication. Here are some of the elements that can evaluate the two and bring out the differences between the two forms of communication-

1. Communication Mode

In the case of casual oral communication, the mode of communication is speaking. The individuals can communicate with each other casually and without worrying about the fact that they have to maintain a particular hierarchy or so. This is not in the case of purposive communications as it can have several modes such as written as well as oral. Individuals can talk about the phone calls or can also choose different modes such as seminars, meetings, and others to communicate through the channel of oral communication. For written forms, the individuals can again have a number of options such as emails, chats, and others.

2. Structure

For casual oral communication, there is no such structure or format used. As mentioned earlier, the speaker is free to speak his or her ideas at his or her will. The speaker usually has a casual approach and does not have to be formal in attitude. In the case of purposive communication, a particular structure and format are used for sharing an idea or a message. If it is an email or a notice, it is essential to follow the right structure of the email such as the salutation, the greetings, and others in order to maintain professional decorum. Similar is in the case of chats and other written communication. Even in the case of oral communication, the speaker needs to maintain a professional attitude and have to maintain a proper format such as offering greetings and salutations before speaking to a particular person. Here, there is the use of different formalities such as thanking someone or conveying a message in a formal tone.

3. Feedback

There is no such requirement of formal feedback in the case of casual oral communication. Even, the feedback is attained instantly. When you are speaking to someone, the person responds to your message in front of you and also offers you feedback or a reply instantly over it. Now when you are having a purposive communication, the feedback depends a lot on the mode of communication that you have selected. For example, if you are having a communication with the other person face to face or through a phone call, there are chances that you can get instant feedback. But when it is a written communication such as through email, there are high chances that you might get feedback after a couple of hours or even after a few days in some cases. Of course, there are also now several written communication channels such as chat applications where the feedback is achieved instantly.

4. Record

Usually, there is no chance of maintaining any kind of record in the case of casual oral communication. When two people are speaking to each other casually, there is no such requirement of maintaining any record. Even when there is something to remember, the listener reminds it in the mind and there is no such requirement of maintaining a physical record of it. But now through the use of modern smartphone devices where record feature is also available, there are a number of people who even record conversations for future reference if required. In contrast to oral communication purposive communication maintains a record of what is being spoken or what messages are being shared. Even when it is a meeting where the form of communication is oral, there is a person who notes down the minutes of the meeting to maintain the record. Of course, the chances of maintaining a record in the case of written communication are much higher. Whether it is in the form of emails, or chat applications, the messages shared are saved so that they can be opened up in the future whenever it is required to ake reference. There are even times when certain essential data is saved separately in many cases.


Communication today has a wide range of options available. Different communication types are used for different purposes such as professional front, personal front, and others. The use of a particular structure, the frequency of feedback, and the maintenance of record are some of the elements that differentiate casual oral communication from purposive communication. How important do you consider purposive communications for an organization?

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Article by:

Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Digiaide and his vision is to make business knowledge accessible to everyone.